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A Sandstone Aiguille Where the Rockies Meet the Plains
Either the Naked Edge is the 5.11 Yellow Spur, or the Yellow Spur is the 5.9 Naked Edge. Both are Layton Kor direttissimas — the Spur climbed in 1959, the Edge three years later — and both take Eldo’s most prominent arêtes, the Spur beelining up the vibrant-yellow pyramid of Redgarden Wall’s Tower One, the Edge towering 800 feet above the tumble of South Boulder Creek on Tower Two. But the Edge is a pumpy, tricky hardperson’s climb, while the Spur is a hard-everyperson’s outing, with two distinct cruxes bookending some of Eldo’s best moderate climbing. Sure, hardcores like Josh Wharton have speed-solo’ed the thing in 13 minutes, but most parties allow a good half-day.
The seven-pitch Spur bares its fangs early. You can 5.10-highball it straight up on Eldo credit cards, or you can swoop in from the right, crossing the roof band in a short, stout 5.9 ropelength that ends at a spindly tree (protect with small gear and fixed pins, dropping in directionals for your second). From here, four pitches of 5.4 to 5.8 crack and corner climbing take you high above the spiny West Ridge, a trad cragger’s paradise. As you move up, be ready to build your own anchors, and avoid climbing below other parties in the blocky 5.4 corner on pitch four.
Suddenly, the snow-capped Indian Peaks crystallize on the skyline. And then, the biz. From an airy pedestal, a pin ladder takes you up thin, just-off-vertical tech climbing along twin seams, and when these peter out, the critical choice: left along the sporty, turbo-5.7 Robbins Traverse (Royal Robbins and Pat Ament made the FFA, via this variant, in 1964), or straight up a bouldery face past two bolts and a pin (5.10c).
Both options funnel into the 5.6 final arête, where climbers become the unwitting playthings of Chinook winds. Here, you’ll feel the rawness of Eldo, so string the last two pitches together to save time if it becomes too gusty. Meanwhile, the descent kicks ass — literally. You face either a butt-bumping slide/downclimb off Redgarden’s East Slabs (avoid in the rain!) or the nefarious Dirty Deed rappels to climber’s left. The Spur faces due west, so it’s good on summer mornings, but best during spring and fall afternoons.
The BetaGuidebooks: Classic Boulder Climbs, by Fred Knapp and Michael Stevens; Rock Climbing Eldorado Canyon, by Richard Rossiter; Serious Play, by Steve Dieckhoff; mountainproject.com
Rack: Single set RPs, nuts, cams to 3.5 inches, 10 draws. With a 60-meter rope and some savvy, you can run some pitches together.
Five Classics near the Yellow Spur, Eldorado Springs Canyon, Colorado
By Matt Samet
If you haven’t had enough big air and adventure on the Yellow Spur (III 5.9), on Redgarden’s mighty west face, then try one of these five other classic lines in the vicinity (up the gully) to get your sandstone on.
Darkness ‘til Dawn (5.10-)The beautiful, semi-leaning corner tucks into an alcove not too gruelingly far uphill from Yellow Spur. Strenuous and sustained, this is atypical climbing for Eldo and may even require some crack technique. Belay at chains — a 70m rope just reaches. Tie a knot in one end of it.Beta:mountainproject.comGear: Standard rack with emphasis on hand sizes.
Rewritten(III 5.7 or 5.8)This hella-vertical-for-5.8 line climbs non-descript ground to the Red Ledge, and then tackles a series of classic, exposed pitches up the slender rib of Rebuffat’s Arete to summit the Redgarden.Beta:mountainproject.comGear: Standard rack, with an emphasis on long slings and hand-sized pieces.
The Great Zot (5.8)Most people climb the first pitch of this to start Rewritten (the first pitch of which is 5.7 R — the scene of a few accidents), so it may already be familiar. The climbing above can be nebulous, up on the so-called “Zot Face,” but even with its mountaineering/rockaneering feel, this is a good, testy trad line.Beta:mountainproject.comGear: Standard rack.
Green Spur (5.9)This is a good start to Rewritten/The Great Zot if you’re feeling feisty, as in ready to tackle some strenuous 5.8 crack moves and stemmy 5.9. The gear is good, and once you hit the Red Ledge you can surf into the prime pitches on upper Rewritten. With a 70m rope, you can string the first two pitches together.Beta:mountainproject.comGear: Standard rack, with an emphasis on finger-sized TCUs.
Swanson Arête (5.5)This sleeper of a line, often called stout for the grade, tucks into an appealing buttress uphill (north) of Yellow Spur. The approach pitches, via West Chimney (an ugly 5.5), leave something to be desired, but you can traverse in from Rewritten. Cracks and corners on clean, dark, slabby rock take you to a silent summit.Beta: mountainproject.comGear: Standard rack and long slings. Bring double ropes if you plan to rappel.